Fibulin-3 (Fib3) is a secreted glycoprotein that is expressed in the retina and has been associated with drusen formation in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The purpose of this study was to assess whether Fib3 is associated with extracellular vesicles (EVs) in drusen from non-diseased and AMD human donors. De-identified sections of human eyes were received from the National Disease Research Institute (NDRI, Philadelphia). Donor eyes were either non-diseased (no known ocular pathology) or had been diagnosed with AMD. Retinal cryostat sections were labeled with primary antibodies targeted to Fib3, Apolipoprotein E (ApoE; a drusen marker), and ALG-2 interacting protein X (Alix, an EV marker) for confocal imaging (Leica TCS SP8). Fib3-positive (Fib3+) puncta were detected on the apical region of the RPE layer and within large AMD drusen. Alix-positive (Alix+) puncta were also detected in a single AMD druse, where a number were Fib3+ and the remaining were Fib3-negative. Similarly, there were Fib3+ puncta that were Alix-negative. Fib3 and Alix also showed a degree of colocalization in the photoreceptor outer segments of the neural retina. Our data suggest that the Alix+ puncta are EV-rich populations that accumulate, together with Fib3, within the drusen matrix during AMD. The EV population is likely heterogeneous, such that there are sub-populations with different cargo content.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience